First, a question - has anyone seen Honeybells (the real ones - not the "Minneola Tangelos" that look like them, but are from California or Texas) in any local store this year? I thought I remembered hearing that the orange harvest wasn't the greatest in Florida this year, and that usually means that not a lot of Honeybells make it out of the state except through fruit shippers. The season is barely a month long - approximately January. I haven't seen them anywhere, yet.
Second, I've found another really good Florida orange - the best one I've had in several years - on sale at Cub this week - if I remember right, $3.88 for a 3-lb bag. They are called "Sugar Belles", and are sold under the "Tradition" brand. Sweet, juicy, and with a really good "orange" flavor. I haven't found a lot of oranges with all three since I moved away from Florida.
It's a cross between a Clementine and a Minneola - here's more info:
Just a heads-up - I was in Cub today, and there were no less than four different varieties of Florida oranges, including the elusive Honeybells. They were all in the $1.20 - $1.50 per pound range - reasonable, in general, for good oranges, and a downright steal for Honeybells.
Aside from the Sugar Belles (which are still available, and still tasty), and the Honeybells, there were Honey Tangerines and Sunburst Tangerines.
The label on the outside of the case said "Honeybells", but the label on the oranges was the more generic "Florida Minneolas" - definitely don't get them confused with the really pretty-looking Minneolas in the big display - they're from California, and while okay in a pinch, they aren't that much better-tasting than any of the other California oranges. The Honeybell display was about one foot by two feet, bottom shelf, sharing a bin with some other oranges. And these Honeybells were _probably_ the leftovers from after they packaged all the nice-looking ones up in giftboxes for shipping. Ugly. Spotty. Most didn't have that nice nubby thing on the end, either. But, they peeled easily, and almost fell apart into segments after peeling, and the juice was just running out - I probably shouldn't have tried eating it in the car, but it was _so_ good. Sweet, orangy, just enough tartness, seedless. Get them while you can. Just stay away from my store... :-)
The Honey Tangerines were equally ugly - it's come to a point where I seek out the ugly oranges - splotchy, some green (but, as we learned in Florida, green-ness isn't necessarily a sign of orange immaturity, just a sign that you're going to pay less for them). This one also peeled pretty easily, and was also sweet and juicy - not quite so much so as the Honeybells, but close - but full of seeds - 2-3 in each segment. Had a little bit of that tangeriny flavor - like tangerines used to have - a little more tart. If you don't mind seeds, these were also good, and cheaper than the Honeybells.
The Sunburst Tangerines were a deep orange on the outside, almost reddish - more like what tangerines used to look like. The peel almost fell off of this one by itself. Reasonably seedless - one or two in the whole thing - but a little drier, and not as sweet, but even more so than the Honey Tangerines, they had that tangerine flavor that's missing in those Clementines that are so popular these days. I probably wouldn't get (many) more of these - although there were tangerines in the bin from three different growers - I happened to get two from the same grower (Ocean Spray, I think) - maybe others are better.
Anyway - that's the orange report for today. In case you're not near a Cub, be sure to look out for them at whichever stores you shop at.
Rainbow - at least the one on American Blvd in Bloomington - is selling _FLORIDA_ Minneola Tangelos now. Minneola Tangelos from Florida = Honeybells (basically, +/- some marketing hype). The bin had a mixture of Florida and "unlabeled" Minneolas. I picked up a couple of the Florida ones, and they're really good - sweet, but a little tart, incredibly juicy, thin-membraned, very few seeds - really good oranges.
They don't quite live up to the idealized version that I have in my head from when we lived in Florida, but they're as good as anything I've gotten since I moved away from there.
well Greg, I think I recently found out what you mean by 'not the Minneola Tangelos'....since Lund's in uptown was recently selling what was labeled on the sign as 'Honeybell Tangelos'--
but the labels on the fruit said 'Minneola Tangelo'.............so, even though it wasn't organically grown I was desperate enough to want to try one,,,,, major disappointment, nothing at all like the great Honeybells I've had from the Wedge in years past....could be the ones you saw at Rainbow are the kind I found at Lund's...
Pardon the interruption, folks, but we've removed some recommendations for out of state and mail order sources of honeybells. In our to keep the Minneapolis-St. Paul branch locally focused, we request that you limit your discussion in this thread to sources of Honeybells in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. If you want to discuss honeybells in general or mail-order sources, please start a new thread on the General Chowhounding Topics branch.
I stopped at the Festival Foods at 98th and Lyndale in Bloomington this morning on the way to work, and they had Honeybells in stock. They're $1.99/lb, and really heavy. I bought one to try them, and it was $1.23 - nearly 10 oz.
Unfortunately, I either got ahold of a bad one, or it's just not a good year. While it was incredibly juicy, and tart, the sweetness was missing (it had a more grapefruity flavor), and there were 25-30 seeds in it. Honeybells are normally considered "seedless", although there do tend to be some seeds, due to bee cross-pollination with the seeded varieties - maybe the bee that pollinated mine stopped at a seeded grapefruit blossom before getting to mine.
I might try another one later in the week, or from somewhere else, but this one was disappointing.
They do have a short season - January, basically. And like most Florida oranges, they have a thinner skin, and more juice, so they probably do need to be handled more carefully.
They'll occasionally make it to Minnesota, but they mainly get taken up by the Florida gift-fruit shippers and local markets down there. When we lived in Florida, we'd eat more oranges - Honeybells - in January than we'd probably eat the rest of the year combined. We lived near the orange groves, so we'd go there and buy bags and bags of "seconds" - Honeybells that didn't look quite nice enough to make it into the gift baskets - and fresh-squeezed orange juice for $3-$4 per gallon. It's one of the things I really miss about Florida.
If you love Honeybells, give the Sugar Belles a try - they were really good.